***Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the SAT, SAT Subject Test and ACT will not be taken into consideration for students applying to CSU and UC schools. If you are applying to a private university, check the school’s website for updated testing requirements.
SAT and ACT Questions and Answers
College Entrance Examinations
SAT, SAT Subject Test, PSAT, ACT, TOEFL — you’ve probably heard about these tests, and chances are you have questions about them. What kinds of questions will you find on these tests? What is an average score? What can you do to improve your score? How do you report your scores to colleges and universities? Read on for answers . . .
The SAT is the most common entrance examination. Colleges and universities use the scores to predict how well a prospective student will perform in college. Plus, the results give colleges a way to compare students from different backgrounds. The SAT consists of three parts — a Evidence Based Reading and Writing (which tests skills such as vocabulary and reading comprehension), a mathematics section (which tests algebra, geometry, and other math concepts) and writing (grammar, usage, and word choice). Click here to find out more about the format of the SAT. You can learn about question types, too.
The SAT is offered many times throughout the year. Most students take the SAT in the spring of their junior year.
What is on the SAT?
The Evidence Based Reading and Writing Section
- Two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section
- 48 reading comprehension questions
- 19 sentence completion questions
- Scored on a 200 to 800 point scale
Students will be asked to read short and long passages followed by some multiple-choice questions.
Students will be presented with an incomplete sentence and be asked to finish it with the correct word or words.
The Mathematics Section
- Two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section
- 44 multiple-choice and 10 grid-ins
- Worth 200 to 800 points
There are only a handful of Intermediate Algebra questions on the SAT. Even if you make a few mistakes, there are so few of them that your score will barely be affected. And by the way, there’s no Intermediate Algebra on the PSAT.
There are some triangle questions on the PSAT and SAT, but you will not have to know trig to solve them.
The Writing Section
- 49 multiple-choice questions and 1 essay
- 60 minutes, 25 of which will be spent on the essay
- Worth 200 to 800 points
The essay will require students to read an 80-word subject prompt that makes a statement or claim. Students then need to develop a position and back it up with examples from schoolwork, literature, history or their own experience. The essay doesn’t test writing ability, as much as it does other skills, such as organization, idea development, or supporting an argument. In fact, the average essay will be graded in just under 2 minutes.
Identifying Sentence Errors
You’ll be presented with a sentence that may or may not have a grammatical or syntactical error in it. You’ll be asked to identify the error, or indicate if there is no error. There are 18 “Error ID” questions.
Students will be asked to look at a sentence and try to improve it, without changing its meaning. There are 25 Improving Sentence questions.
These are just like the Improving Sentence questions except…you guessed it…you’ll be looking at and improving paragraphs. There are only 6 of these.
SAT scores are reported either separately (a perfect score for any section is 800 ) or combined (perfect score = 2400). It is your responsibility to have your scores forwarded to colleges — you can do this at the time you take the test or after you receive the results. Often, the cost of score reporting is included as an option when you register for the SAT.
What else do I need to know?
A few things to study include: Sets, Absolute Value, Radical Equations, Exponents, and Functions.
Calculator use is allowed, but not required.
You may register online on the College Board Web site. You many also register by mail or by telephone/fax (in certain cases).
SAT Subject Tests
The SAT Subject tests are given to find out how much students know about a particular subject area, like literature, U.S. history, chemistry, or French. Colleges use the SAT Subject Test scores for several reasons, usually to place students in classes and/or as criteria for admissions. Some schools do not require students to take SAT Subject Tests at all. Check with the admissions office at the colleges you are considering finding out their requirements, or looking in the admissions section of their Web sites.
The ACT (American College Test) is another entrance examination used by schools throughout the country in addition to, or instead of, the SAT tests. Although the SAT is more common, many schools use the ACT, so make sure to double-check with the admissions office before you apply to a college.
While the SAT tests mathematic and verbal skills, the ACT examines students’ abilities in English, mathematics, natural sciences, and social studies.
Like the SAT, the ACT is offered several times throughout the year and is typically taken in the spring of the junior year. If a school you are interested in will accept either SAT or ACT scores, you may want to consider taking a practice test in each one and then take the one that you feel is best suited to your strengths.
The home page for the American College Test (ACT) examinations and other testing packages, has information on the tests and the college application process. Online registration is available. For parents, there are sections on career options, resources, and college planning. The college planning section has a planning checklist and a glossary of higher education terms. If you visit this site, check out C3, which has information for parents, students, and school counselors including a useful financial aid estimator, links to virtual tours, and a college search engine.
The College Board provides comprehensive information on the PSAT, SAT, SAT Subject Test, and AP tests. You can register online for SATs, get a predicted SAT score, and use the SAT Learning Center for real test answers and questions. The site includes links to press releases for current testing news. You may also link to information about career and college planning, the application process, and financial aid, as well as search engines to find colleges and scholarships that are right for you.
The College Board is committed to serving students with disabilities by providing services and reasonable accommodations appropriate to the student’s disability and the purpose of the exam. Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) provides Advanced Placement (AP), PSAT, NMSQT, and SAT testing accommodations for students who have documented disabilities. Information is provided on eligibility, registration, and resources.
Like the College Board site, this site provides general information about testing, with schedules, practice questions, and registration information, plus information for parents, educators, policymakers, and researchers. The site also includes several special features, such as a downloadable demo for computer-based testing and official policy statements concerning students with disabilities.
This site offers preparation for a variety of tests, including ACT, GRE and SAT. In the SAT section, you can take tutorials and answer practice questions on analogies, sentence completion, reading, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data. Based on your answers, the site will tell you why you were right or wrong, the difficulty of the question, and your predicted percentile ranking. After you complete a simple registration procedure, the site remembers you and can personalize testing to your individual level in each subject. There’s a special section for vocabulary building, plus a college search wizard and a financial aid guide. Best of all, everything on number2.com is FREE – and the site is easily navigated, even for Internet novices.
The Princeton Review provides many services to aid in preparation for the SAT and ACT. Site visitors can take online courses in test preparation, receive answers to common questions about testing, read helpful tips and strategies, and participate in online discussion groups. The site also allows visitors to answer practice questions and take a full-length, timed SAT. Students can receive online tutoring in a variety of subjects from Princeton Review 121, where experienced tutors and counselors are available free of charge.
This is the official site of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The site includes information on computer- and paper-based TOEFL, tutorials, and practice questions. There are separate sections for test-takers, educators, and researchers, plus a special link for test-takers with disabilities. The site’s download library allows users to download up-to-date forms and publications.
SAT/ACT Tips and Strategies
Need some test-taking tips? Try some of these sites…
This site is a good source for test-taking tips, including lists of word roots, suffixes, and prefixes, clue words, critical reading hints, math concepts, and more. You can also take practice quizzes in analogies, sentence completion, and math.
Do you know how colleges look at SAT scores and how much they count in the admissions process? Do you know how the SAT is scored and what the median score is at more than 50 top colleges and universities? Visit this site and find the answers to these questions, plus tips on test day preparation and evaluating your results.
Here you can find 5000 SAT preparation words, available for free. View the words online, print the list, or download it to your computer, to a disk, or to compatible calculators.
Play vocabulary games and learn the 100 words most commonly found on College Board tests.
Take ten different quizzes and learn 150 must-know vocabulary words.
Wordsmyth SAT Dictionary
An alphabetical list (including the most common definition, different parts of speech, and examples of antonyms) of the 2000 words that have appeared most frequently on the SAT over the last ten years
Need to brush up on your math skills? This site provides a free tutorial on more than 20 SAT math topics. Review fractions, geometry, slopes, word problems, the Pythagorean Theorem, and much more — then take a quiz on each section to test your knowledge.